5 key takeaways from Apple’s iPhone 13 event

15 Sep 2021

The new iPhone 13. Image: Apple

From the iPhone’s new A15 chip to the biggest-ever Apple Watch, here are all the major announcements made at California Streaming.

The flagship Apple event of 2021, California Streaming, not only revealed the iPhone 13 but also new iPads and Apple Watches, as well as some software news.

While announcements about new MacBooks are expected later in the autumn, there was plenty of product news yesterday (14 September) to keep Apple fans happy. Here’s what you need to know.

iPhone 13

As predicted, the new iPhone 13 range was the centrepiece of the Apple show. While there are some new colour options for the device, it comes with a similar physical design to the iPhone 12.

The iPhone and iPhone Mini have been given a smaller notch, the company’s A15 Bionic chip, a larger battery and diagonally placed dual cameras. They’re also available in five colours – pink, blue, midnight, starlight and red.

The entire range comes equipped with the new Cinematic mode, adding a host of new video capture features. Apple hasn’t revealed all the details yet so it remains unclear how powerful the capabilities are, but Cinematic mode it said to boast automatic focus changes and depth effects.

Much of this capability, Apple said, is powered by the A15 system-on-a-chip and advanced machine learning algorithms.

The 13 and 13 Mini will start at €929 and €829, respectively. The entire iPhone range can be pre-ordered starting on 17 September, and will go on sale on 24 September.

iPhone 13 Pro

The iPhone 13 Pro range.

Image: Apple

The Pro and Pro Max offerings in the iPhone range got more updates than their smaller siblings.

The camera system has been beefed up and the display comes with the ProMotion feature, allowing users to set the refresh rate as high as 120Hz for smoother picture. The Pro Max’s storage options will also go all the way up to 1TB.

The bigger phones will also feature the A15 chip and new software-powered video capabilities.

Thomas Husson, vice-president and principal analyst at Forrester, said that he “[doesn’t] think it will make sense for existing iPhone 12 users to upgrade, especially given the environmental impact.”

Husson did, however, acknowledge that the “incremental innovation” of the new line-up is “likely to be good enough to increase the stickiness of the Apple brand”.

The Pro will begin at €1,179 and the Pro Max at €1,279.

iPad and iPad Mini

The new iPad Mini.

Image: Apple

The iPad enters its ninth generation, and now comes with an A13 chip and a 12MP front-facing camera capable of automatically centring the subject in its frame. On the outside, the new iPad looks pretty much the same as its predecessor.

Its smaller counterpart, the iPad Mini was more comprehensively redesigned. The display is now larger, at 8.3 inches, and the physical design has been tweaked.

It’s also powered by the A15, and now has a USB-C port and support for the second-generation Apple Pencil. The Mini’s Touch ID has been moved to the power button at the top of the device.

The new iPad will begin at €399 and the Mini at €569. Both go on sale at the same time as the new iPhone (24 September) but can be pre-ordered now.

Apple Watch Series 7

The Apple Watch Series 7.

Image: Apple

The Apple Watch saw its first big physical redesign in a while. The Series 7 is physically larger with an even bigger display, and the corners of the device have been rounded somewhat.

It’s also being described by the company as “the most durable Apple Watch ever”, with a more crack-resistant display and a screen certified for dust resistance. The internal workings have been updated slightly, with WatchOS entering its eighth generation and charging that the company says is one-third faster than the Series 6.

The new Watch will go on sale on an unspecified date later this autumn. A price for Ireland has not been announced, but the Apple Watch Series 7 will start at $399 in the US.

iOS 15

Next Monday, 20 September, Apple will roll out iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and WatchOS 8.

New features include Focus, which limits notifications to certain people or apps chosen by the user, and tweaks to the Messages app. FaceTime is said to have been given audio improvements, and the camera will feature new Live Text functionality, scanning its surroundings to highlight words and objects, similar to Google Lens.

Apple’s anticipated SharePlay feature, allowing people to watch or listen to media at the same time remotely, will not be initially available in iOS 15. There will also be a number of updates to Fitness+, including new kinds of workouts, available September 27.

The announcement of iOS 15 comes just days after Apple released updates for all of its devices to patch a critical security flaw. All users of iPads, Watches, iPhones and Macs are encouraged to update as soon as possible.

Jack Kennedy is a freelance journalist based in Dublin